AGAINST NACHUM, part 1
Responding to his “28 Questions Addressed” video series
by Edwin M. Cotto
Adventist Defense League
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the King James Version.
Estimated read time: 12 minutes, 0 seconds, according to Read-O-Meter.
For over 10 years now, the Adventist Defense League has had on its website a list of 28 questions for critics to attempt to answer.1 There have been a few attempts to answer these questions but circumstances have not permitted me the time to respond to them. But I have endeavored now to respond to my critic’s attempts and the following is part 1 of my responses.
Nachum Ben Yepheth, also known as SolaScriptura21 on YouTube, is the one who has made the most recent response. In his videos, Mr. Sola makes an attempt to answer these questions as a former Adventist.2 I commend him for the attempt. What follows now is my response to his answers.
Two points before I begin. First, you will notice that I only summarized Sola’s responses. I did this to save time and space. Second, readers should remember that these questions were never really created by me and that I have always had this disclaimer present on the webpage. It’s important to bring this out because at some points even I may disagree with the question or how it was worded. Nevertheless, in most cases, I agree with these questions and will leave them on the website for any other critics who would like to try and provide answers. Let us now proceed with my rebuttals to his questions.
NOTE: I plan on providing this reply in video format soon. Visit this page often for updates.
QUESTION #1: If the Sabbath is “against us and contrary to us” as they claim Colossians 2:14 states, why does the Lord himself (in Isaiah 58:13-14) say we should consider it “a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable”?
Sola’s Response: A simple way to address this, in my opinion, is to use their own logic. In Psalm 1:1-2 it says, “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” The Hebrew for “law” is “torah.” Since “torah” includes the ceremonial law, this verse is saying to delight in the ceremonial law. If Col. 2:14 is the ceremonial law, and it’s done away with, then ADL is being inconsistent.
Edwin’s Response to Sola: Sola seems to think that the word “torah” always means the “whole” law, but Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon along with a quick look at a Hebrew concordance shows us that this is not always the case:
|law, direction, instruction, instruction, direction (human or divine)body of prophetic teaching instruction in Messianic age, body of priestly direction or instruction, body of legal directives law, law of the burnt offering, of special law, codes of law, custom, manner, the Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law|
Law.– (a) human, the manner and principles which men follow, 2 Sam. 7:19,– (b) divine, whether one, followed by a genit. of the object, e.g. the law of sacrifice, Leviticus 6:7, 7.7, or collect. Laws; the book of the law, Josh. 1:8, 8:34.3
As you can see, in some cases, torah will mean the entire body of laws, which would include the ceremonial laws as well. But torah will not always refer to the entire body of laws. It can also refer to a single law, be that a divine law or a human law. In Leviticus 11 the word torah refers to the body of dietary laws (see verse 46). In Leviticus 7:1, torah refers to the single “trespass offering” law. In Numbers 6:13, torah refers to the Nazarite vow. And there are many more examples like these.
The problem with using Psalm 1:2 is that we don’t know to which of these David is referring to. At best we know he means divine laws, but does he mean a single divine law, a group of divine laws, or the entire body of divine laws? Somehow, Sola thinks that David is speaking of the whole body of laws even though David doesn’t qualify it. The truth is that we don’t really know if by torah, David is calling the entire body of laws a delight, or if he has a specific portion of it in mind.
On the other hand, Isaiah 58:14 does qualify what law was a “delight” and here we don’t have to do any guesswork. The point of question number 1 was that when Paul wrote about ordinances “against us” in Colossians 2:14, he could not have had the weekly Sabbath in mind, because the Tanakh, which he read, spoke of it as a “delight.” We would not expect him to tell the Colossians that something that was delightful was actually always against them. He would actually be contradicting the scriptures.
QUESTION #2: The words of Jesus in Mark 12:29-31 (“thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” and the second Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself “) have been so-called “the laws of Christ” and have supposedly usurped the Ten Commandments. However, these same words are found in Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 and Leviticus 19:18 so why did we need the Ten Commandments if we already had these so-called “laws of Christ” already spoken?
Sola’s Response: If you read what he says, he said, “so why do we need the ten commandments if we already had these so-called ‘laws of Christ’ already spoken?” So is he saying that these laws were given before the Decalogue? If that’s the case, in the New Covenant we’re told these are the two greatest commandments and none of them are found in the Decalogue. SDAs like to say, “these two laws summarize the Ten Commandments.” But in reality, these summarize the whole Torah, not just the Ten Commandments. Let’s assume that he’s correct and these are not the laws of Christ. What would the laws of Christ be? Would they be separate from the Decalogue? If so, can you prove that? This isn’t really an argument I would make anyway. Just a couple of things to think about.
Edwin’s Response to Sola: I will repeat Sola’s response and reply in between. Sola’s words will be in italic:
If you read what he says, he said, “so why do we need the ten commandments if we already had these so-called ‘laws of Christ’ already spoken?” So is he saying that these laws were given before the Decalogue? If that’s the case, in the New Covenant we’re told these are the two greatest commandments and none of them are found in the Decalogue.
I would not have particularly asked the question this way. However, I am also not sure how Sola’s reply answers the question. If the two greatest commandments were given before the Ten Commandments were given, that itself would not negatively affect the Ten Commandments.
SDAs like to say, “these two laws summarize the Ten Commandments.” But in reality these summarize the whole Torah, not just the Ten Commandments.
I have not read a verse that says that the two greatest commandments are a summary of the entire Torah. The following are the only two verses that mention the summary of the law in the context of these two greater commandments:
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Romans 13:3)
Commenting on the greek word for “hang” in the first reference, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon tells us the following:
Matthew 22:40, where the meaning is, all the Law and the Prophets (i. e. the teaching of the O. T. on morality) is summed up in these two precepts.4
Note that it says the teaching of the Old Testament “on morality.” Contextually, Jesus is speaking about moral issues, since “love” is a moral issue. Jesus is not speaking about ceremonial issues. The context is the same in Romans 13, where Paul contends that we ought to obey the authorities by “working no ill to his neighbor” (verse 10, c.f. 12-14). Here, Paul directly quotes from the “moral” law, the Ten Commandments, and tells us that they are “briefly comprehended” or summed up as “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” When Sola said that these two summarize the whole torah, he is wrong, because the whole Torah includes ceremonial laws. The reality is that the two greatest commandments are a summary of all the moral laws, which are the Ten Commandments.
I will make two more points in order to avoid as much as possible leaving a stone unturned. First, critics will often point to the words “and the prophets” in Matthew 22:40, and will exclaim, “see, it’s not just the Ten Commandments because Jesus also mentioned the prophets.” Yet these same critics will claim that the Ten Commandments were abolished a few days later at the cross, not realizing that if that truly was what happened, then the “prophets” were abolished as well! Since they are not ready to admit to that, then the point remains, that neither the Ten Commandments nor the prophets were abolished, ever.
When Jesus mentions “the prophets” he does not mean literal human beings. He is talking about the teachings of the prophets, as the NLT puts it, “the entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Since the context is pertaining to morality, it follows that Jesus is talking about the moral teachings of the prophets. “On these two hang all morality,” is the point he is making.
Second, critics often attack the Ten Commandments by claiming that there are moral laws that are not contained in the Decalogue. These critics fail to see the broadness of each commandment, as we are told by David in Psalm 119:96. Every moral law is in one way or the other connected to one or more of the Ten Commandments. For example, rebellion is a sin, but it is not mentioned in the Decalogue, and yet, Samuel connects it to witchcraft, which would be a violation of the first and second commandments (1 Samuel 15:23). Favoritism is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, and yet James tells us that if you show favoritism you are breaking the Ten Commandments (James 2:9-11). Critics who interpret the Decalogue as limited fail to see how every one of its commandments touch every motive and action of mankind. They don’t agree with David.
Let’s assume that he’s correct and these are not the laws of Christ. What would the laws of Christ be? Would they be separate from the Decalogue? If so, can you prove that? This isn’t really an argument I would make anyway. Just a couple of things to think about.
Where in the question was it said that “these are not the laws of Christ?” The point of the question is that the two greatest commandments do not usurp the Decalogue because they are the summary of all the Decalogue!
QUESTION #3: Sunday keepers always want hard facts from Sabbath keepers by asking us questions like “Why was the Sabbath not mentioned after Genesis 2:2-3 until Exodus 16?” and “Why was the Sabbath command not repeated in the New Testament?” but if you ask in return for a hard fact about where is the commandment for Sunday anywhere in the bible all you get is bewildered looks.
Sola’s Response: Well, not everyone you ask will give you bewildered looks, but at the same time, its a valid question… I don’t hold to a Sunday Sabbath…”
Edwin’s Response to Sola: Since Sola agrees with the implications of this question and did not intend on providing an answer to it, we will move on to the next question.
QUESTION #4: Exodus 20:2 reads “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The dispensationalist often refers to the Ten Commandments as “bondage”. So are they going to have me believe God brought them out of bondage just to place them under more bondage? Huh?
Sola’s Response: This one is directed specifically to dispensationalist and doesn’t apply to me at all, so I’ll just skip this one.
Edwin’s Response to Sola: According to Sola this question also does not apply to him, so he skips it as well without answer. But because I believe it is a good question, I will elaborate on it for the benefit of other readers and perhaps for Mr. Sola as well.
The Ten Commandments do begin with an introduction to God as liberator (Exodus 20:2). The foundation of this law therefore is liberty. Indeed keeping it does bring liberty, including the fourth commandment, which demands rest even for the “manservants and maidservants” as well (c.f. Deut. 5:15). David speaks of walking in liberty as he kept the law (Psalm 119:45),5 and James directly calls them the “law of liberty.”
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12).6
The obvious point is that the Ten Commandments do not and have never brought forth “bondage.” On the contrary, keeping them brings liberty just like obeying the law of the land prevents us from getting into any legal trouble.
This concludes my response to video 1. Response to Video 2 coming soon. I pray that this is a blessing for both Nachum and every reader. May God’s truth be vindicated. If Nachum would like to debate these responses, I invite him to do so.
1. See: http://www.adventistdefenseleague.com/2009/06/uncomfortable-questions-posed-to.html
2. To see Sola’s video response, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDCtWyUSX8o&t=60s
3. See: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8451&t=KJV
4. See: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2910&t=KJV (click “show all” in the Thayer’s Greek Lexicon section).
5. The Hebrew word for “statutes” is “פִּקּוּדִים” and its a bit difficult to interpret because it is only found 24 times in the Psalms. The Hebrew suffix ים tells us that this word is plural. The lexicon confirms this (click here). We get a little hint of what specific statutes these are in Psalm 119:7-8. Here, פִּקּוּדִים is spoken of as lasting “for ever and ever.” Since all ceremonial laws came to an end and thus do not last “for ever and ever,” it’s likely that this word refers to moral laws such as the Ten Commandments and any of its moral extensions.
6. As a side note, since the letter of James was written after the ministry of Christ, and since in it he is warning against the breaking of the Ten Commandments (James 2:11), it follows that keeping them after the cross was a necessity and therefore the idea that it was abolished is inexact.